New Year’s STD No-No

In Mental Health, Sex on January 3, 2010 at 2:05 am

Dear Yenta,

On New Year’s Eve I got a little stupid. I hate the holidays because I lost my sister to an accident a few year’s back and things get emotionally ugly around Christmas. This year I got wasted and slept with someone who I knew had genital warts. I was drunk and not thinking and feeling like crap and am worried now that I might have infected myself. I pretty much hate myself right now. Fix it?

Ugh. Happy 2010.

-Ready for Next Year to Come


I don’t think I can fix this one for you, but I can give you a virtual hug and try to help you stop hating yourself. STD’s are the devil, they sneak around every corner. The worst element of the suckers is that people think they are alone and feel ashamed of having been sexual.

Maybe sit on the subway or on the bus or at the airport and take a look around. According to, “One in five people in the United States has an STD.” So clearly, if you are standing in a sea of humans who appear to be healthy, perfect, and normal, chances are they are perfect and normal with some sort of itch, burn or growth down below. Don’t hate yourself for being human in a diseased age.

Do, however, learn from your mistakes. You may or may not have an STD. Regardless, take this as an opportunity to do a few things.

For one, perhaps, knowing that this time of year brings up memories, pain and grief, it is best to take some precautions in the future. Line up a less tempting New Year’s plan, connect with whatever supports you, be it religion, nature, sports, friends, family, therapy, hot springs, you name it. Just make sure, like brushing your teeth and changing your sheets, you find time in advance to plan the darkest weeks of the year so that when you do fall apart, you don’t fall to pieces.

Second, deal with your sex life. With or without an STD, sex can be fun, crazy, and whatever else you wish it to be. In truth, though, humans at this point are walking infections, so make sure you take precautions to protect yourself from contracting piggyback sexually transmitted diseases. Generally, when you have one, it makes you way more susceptible to more because your immunity is weakened.

Make sure, in the words of Salt N Pepa, that you talk about sex and STD’s. A bedside conversation can be a) revealing b) trust-provoking c) sobering and d) vital to the safety of both you and your buddy.

If you are having sex with a long-term partner, get tested before you get nasty. If you are having sex with randoms, get tested regularly as well. If playing with strangers, there are a number of new tips to follow. For one, remember that fluid, not sex, causes disease transmission. And with some, simple contact does the job, ie, rubbing against sores, warts, and so on will pass the STD on without any secretions to begin with.

Know that you are taking a risk with any stranger, and be sure to keep your genitals either covered in latex, dental dams, condoms and the like, or limit your games to hands reaching across a bed. Be creative, intercourse is not the only road to release. As Mary-Kate put it on Weeds, “My virginity is for my husband, but that doesn’t mean we can’t have some fun.” Abstinence is not just for Jesus-believers. Sex without intercourse can be equally satisfying, if not twice as erotic and way less risky. We haven’t even mentioned babies.

And lastly, forgive yourself. Everyone makes messy mistakes when they are miserable. Some hurt their friends or family, others abuse drugs and alcohol. Still others resort to sex, to violence, to self-abuse, to animal abuse and more: the “evil” deeds of humans are countless, and almost always are a result of poorly managed pain. Suffering, or really the avoidance of suffering, often leads to poor choices. You are no sinner, just maybe need a hug.

For more help with STD questions:

Call Planned Parenthood National Hotline, 1-800-230-PLAN (7526), Available 24/7, counseling and clinic referral on STDs, pregnancy and other sexual health issues.

Also check out Go Ask Alice through Columbia University for answers to more specifics and MTV’s It’s Your Sex Life for answers to EVERYTHING sexual.

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